History of the Municipality of São Brás de Alportel
The area that is now the municipality of São Brás de Alportel, in common with the Algarve as a whole, was inhabited in prehistoric times, and during the Roman and medieval Islamic periods. It was the birthplace of the Moorish poet Ibne Ammar in the 13th century, and by the 16th century, when it was made the parish seat, São Brás de Alportel was a small village with a simple chapel located next to the old road known as the “Calçadinha”. From the 17th century onwards it was the summer residence of the bishops of the Algarve, who were drawn to it by its agreeable climate, and in the 19th century it saw a spurt of growth as it was on the crossroads of the routes linking Loulé to Tavira and Faro to Almodôvar.
The area’s extensive plantations of cork oak provided a springboard for commercial and industrial development and for years São Brás de Alportel was the main cork producing centre in Portugal and the world. Its increasing population and economic importance led to the creation of the municipality in 1914.
The gradual transfer of the cork processing industry to the centre and north of Portugal has prompted the municipality to diversify its sources of economic prosperity in recent decades.